Attending a Stronger Together workshop enables HR teams to identify and deal with potential incidences of modern slavery and protects businesses from being exposed to labour exploitation.
Caledonian Produce, part of Bakkavor Group, manufactures fresh prepared foods for M&S at its site in Scotland. The business has made important changes to its recruitment and induction processes, and increased awareness of worker exploitation, throughout its entire workforce by putting in place tools gained at a Stronger Together workshop.
When Caledonian Produce originally opened in 1969 it employed approximately 100 people. Since then it has grown significantly, now employing approximately 1,300 staff across two sites. Around 250 to 300 temporary workers are recruited each year at peak production times and an on-site recruitment agency provides labour all year round to help meet production demands.
Sophia Westerhuis, HR Officer at Caledonian Produce, found the Stronger Together workshop to be an inspirational eye-opener. She said: “Attending the workshop really gave me lots of information about the risk of modern day slavery, what signs we should look out for and what to do to protect our workforce from potential worker exploitation. I came back from the training session armed with the Stronger Together checklist, and used that to immediately formulate a plan.”
Sophia set about building awareness of the Stronger Together campaign with the workforce. Posters were put up around both sites and in the canteen a specific Stronger Together notice board was created, using statistics and other information gleaned from the workshop and Stronger Together documents.
Stronger Together slides have also been incorporated into the induction presentation for all new members of staff, and information leaflets are put into each induction pack. The information given to new staff includes details of their HR contact and all the relevant telephone numbers they need to report any concerns.
The entire HR Team, Site Employee Forum and Management Team have also been briefed on the agenda and what to look out for. Sophia commented: “It’s all about building awareness and making sure that if people have concerns they know what to look for and who to go to.”
The company run regular reports to check whether addresses, bank details and phone numbers are being used numerous times for different members of staff. Sophia has also checked that their on-site labour provider is fully aware of the Stronger Together agenda and knows what to look out for. “They are completely on board and have also displayed posters and all relevant information,” she explained.
Bakkavor is also currently creating a company policy which will outline the company’s commitment to the prevention of labour exploitation.
Sophia added: “The message is definitely getting through and we are all doing what we need to do to identify and deal with any concerns. There are certain things now that we can identify as possible alert triggers which previously we may not have linked to labour exploitation. For example, as part of the recruitment process during an initial telephone interview you may become aware that a person is being ‘coached’ in the background. Whereas previously this would have been a concern in terms of communication skills, we now know this is a possible alert flag for labour exploitation. This means we are able to ask the correct questions and take appropriate action. “The HR Team are now confident that they would be more likely to identify incidents of this nature and if that person goes further in the recruitment process, more specific checks can be made to ensure they are not a victim of human labour exploitation.”
For more information, and to book a place on a Stronger Together Tackling Hidden Labour Exploitation Workshop, click here. There is one free delegate place provided per organisation for ALP members, charities, NGOs and project sponsor own labels. Please call us on 01276 919090 if you wish to book a free delegate place.